FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long has been ordered to reimburse the government for his misuse of federal vehicles, but he will be allowed to remain in his job, according to statements from Long and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released late Friday.
The statements appeared to be aimed at overcoming a tense feud between Long and Nielsen that has distracted staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency— where Long is well liked — right at the moment that the agency is coping with flooding from Hurricane Florence.
A person familiar with Long’s case said he will not be referred for criminal charges, a possibility that left him rattled this week and on the verge of quitting right as Florence hit his home state, North Carolina. President Trump has told advisers he likes Long and wants him to stay in the job, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the FEMA administrator’s predicament.
In a phone call Friday morning, Long and Nielsen discussed the inspector general’s final report, according to two senior government officials, and seemed to reach a resolution to their bitter feud. Long has told colleagues he hoped the resolution would lead to detente with Nielsen. In her statement, Nielsen said a review of the FEMA administrator’s conduct by the DHS inspector general was complete. Long’s use of government vehicles to travel between Washington and his home in Hickory, N.C., had been done “without proper authorization,” she said.
“The FEMA Administrator has unique responsibilities to ensure the government continues to operate effectively in catastrophic circumstances,” she said. “For nearly a decade, FEMA Administrators have been transported in and had access to government vehicles equipped to ensure senior leader connectivity in times of crisis. Despite this established practice, use of government vehicles to provide home to work transportation for the FEMA Administrator was never authorized in accordance with applicable law.”
Long’s statement, sent to reporters by DHS officials, not FEMA staff, said he would take “corrective action.”
“As the leader of this agency, I accept full responsibility for any mistakes that were made by me or the agency,” the statement said.
According to Nielsen’s statement, the inspector general’s report determined that Long had used government vehicles for “non-official reasons,” and those trips would have to be paid back. DHS will conduct a review of the agency’s home-to-work transportation programs, Nielsen said.
William Wan contributed to this report.